Renault's Fernando Alonso was at the top of the time sheet after the second free practice for the San Marino Grand Prix with a best of 1:25.043. He was just under three tenths slower than Michael Schumacher's fastest time of the morning session.
Renault's Fernando Alonso was at the top of the time sheet after the second free practice for the San Marino Grand Prix with a best of 1:25.043. He was just under three tenths slower than Michael Schumacher's fastest time of the morning session. Schumacher's Ferrari was second in the afternoon and BMW Sauber No.3 Robert Kubica was third.
The track temperature had climbed a few degrees from the morning, up to around 30, while the air was about five degrees lower. Super Aguri's Yuji Ide led out for the installation laps, along with Kubica, the MF1s of Christijan Albers, Tiago Monteiro and third driver Giorgio Mondini, and Honda No.3 Anthony Davidson.
Then came Takuma Sato's Super Aguri and the Toro Rossos of Tonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed and third driver Neel Jani followed on. Sato was first to record a time but was immediately eclipsed by several drivers in quick succession with Mondini taking the top spot after the order panned out, 1:31.080. In turn he was dropped by Liuzzi's 1:29.905.
Davidson took over with a 1:28.509 and Mondini returned to second, only to be ousted by Albers. Wurz took third and behind the Williams it was Liuzzi, Mondini, Jani, Monteiro, Sato, Speed and Ide. Wurz improved to the top spot, 1:28.378, and Davidson was less than a tenth behind. Albers was seven tenths adrift in third.
Red Bull third driver Robert Doornbos clocked fifth and Speed moved up to sixth. Kubica took the second slot, half a tenth down on Wurz, who had improved to 1:27.945. Jarno Trulli's Toyota arrived in fourth and Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren went straight to the top on his first flyer, 1:27.325 for nearly four tenths ahead of Trulli, who took second.
Raikkonen lowered his time to 1:26.782 to leave Trulli nine tenths down and Juan Pablo Montoya made it a McLaren one-two when he slotted in behind Raikkonen for second, marginally ahead of Trulli. Wurz then split the McLarens with six and a half tenths off Raikkonen, only to have Montoya rebound to second and close the gap to three tenths.
Rubens Barrichello was the first Honda race driver to appear for the day and posted fifth. Felipe Massa led out for Ferrari and took second, just over a tenth off Raikkonen, and teammate Michael followed into third. Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella clocked fifth on his first effort then Michael went quickest, 1:25.470, over a second up on Raikkonen.
Alonso started in the midfield then picked up to second, nine tenths off Michael. Raikkonen, Fisichella and Massa followed Alonso and then came Montoya, Davidson, Wurz, Trulli and Liuzzi to complete the top 10. By half way through the other third drivers had been relegated to the midfield and eight drivers had yet to set a time, including the BMW Sauber and Williams racers.
Jacques Villeneuve was the first BMW Sauber on the time sheet shortly afterwards, 22nd. Kubica went back into the top 10 for sixth and Barrichello did likewise to take third but was quickly relieved of the position by Montoya. Wurz went up to sixth and Villeneuve to 14th, then Wurz improved again to go second, fractionally in front of Montoya.
Davidson climbed a couple of places to fifth and Villeneuve another two to 12th. The Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Christian Klien were 13th and 15th respectively and Ralf Schumacher's Toyota was down in 20th. Massa, who had been shuffled down the order, went back up to seventh and Michael remained at the top for some time.
Alonso closed the gap to the lead Ferrari to two and a half tenths and Jenson Button's Honda joined the front runners in fifth. Massa, who had been demoted again, was back to sixth and with 20 minutes to go the activity tailed off a little. Trulli, who had dropped outside the top 10, improved to third behind Michael and Alonso.
Nico Rosberg's Williams edged onto the time sheet in 25th then climbed to 17th, but lost the place to Speed. Kubica improved to third and then Davidson to second, a couple of hundredths ahead of Alonso, while Liuzzi and Albers traded the 13th spot. Rosberg bounced back to 14th and Nick Heidfeld got his BMW Sauber on the list in 18th.
In the last 10 minutes only the Williams of Mark Webber had not set a time. Heidfeld took to the top 10 with eighth and Webber finally clocked a time to take 22nd. The close of session activity saw Alonso return to second, just four thousandths behind Michael, then Kubica beat the pair of them with a 1:25.421, half a tenth up.
It was short lived as Alonso wound up another flyer and clocked 1:25.043, nearly four tenths quicker. Michael took second, fractionally quicker than Kubica, and Massa moved back up the times for the umpteenth time to take fifth behind Davidson. And that was pretty much the end of the hour.
"As usual on the Friday, the grip levels were quite bad," said Alonso. "That makes the car inconsistent to drive, and we began working on the set-up to try and improve things. We are not there yet, and we are suffering from too much understeer at the moment. I think we are quick as well but as always, the times on Friday don't mean too much. If we can make some good changes tonight, though, I think we will be a in a strong situation for the race."
Michael was happy enough with Ferrari's day. "We have made progress in various areas and even if they are only minor things, all put together they have produced a good step forward," he commented. "The whole package is working better and therefore the car is quicker. I think we can fight for pole tomorrow and I even believe we can be in the hunt for the win on Sunday. I say it again, I am optimistic."
Kubica focused mainly on tyres. "This is my first ever Formula One practice in Europe," he said. "I already knew Imola, but they have changed the chicane and re-asphalted some corners. Where the grip level was poor the car was very unstable. We have worked to choose the best tyres, mainly concentrating on doing long runs to see the degradation, and I think we have done two really good sessions."
On a Friday it's really not possible to pinpoint who is most competitive but the general picture presented no big surprises. Overall Ferrari and Renault appeared to be the pacesetters with McLaren, Honda, Toyota and BMW mixed up behind. Final top eight classification: Alonso, M. Schumacher, Kubica, Davison, Massa, Fisichella, Trulli, Wurz.